Micela Leis

I decided in my junior year that I wanted to try teaching in a rural location and knew I needed to be prepared. During my senior year I completed the master’s degree program in elementary education.

Applied Developmental Science Ph.D. program, Year 2
(B.A., Child Development; M.Ed., Elementary Ed, Tufts University, 2008)

Micela taught at an elementary school in rural eastern North Carolina in the town of Colerain, in which 78% of students were eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. After her two years in Colerain, she taught for a year in a private school in Rhode Island.

A Little Background

“I decided in my junior year that I wanted to try teaching in a rural location and knew I needed to be prepared. During my senior year I completed the master’s degree program in elementary education. Even though I already had a teaching license, I liked the TFA community—the other young people and support and coaching they offered.”

One Thing She Will Always Remember

“Schools are complex places. They can be a catalyst for building relationships and learning social-emotional learning skills, but they don’t always. Schools should be about the joy of learning, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the students.”

Her Inspiration

“The year I taught in the private school, I observed a different culture. Teachers had more autonomy, and there was a positive climate. I thought about how different school could be for my students in North Carolina if school climate was the focus of concern, rather than student standardized test scores. I wanted to work on that.”

Why Curry?

“My TFA experience influenced my interest in interventions that support positive outcomes for students. I chose the Applied Developmental Science program at the Curry School because of Sara Rimm-Kaufman’s research on the classroom contexts that promote learning. I want to work on building a climate of trust among the adults in a school to promote school change.”